Day 153: the Storm of the Century

March 13, 2012

Nineteen years ago, on this very day, the Eastern United States was recovering from, and in some cases still battling through, the ’93 Superstorm.  Blizzards and horrendous ice-storms fought with tornadoes and epic thunderstorms to see who could scour the human menace off the land.

When Shannon and I woke up in our studio apartment that day and looked out of our second story window, we were amazed at the destruction visible from a storm that we’d slept right through.  There was no warning for this massive beast.  It even took meteorologists by surprise, and nothing surprises those people.

Through the rainy, thundering aftermath from the worst part of the storm, we saw a community pool filled to the top with water and a tree.  A second, much larger oak tree was laying across the parking lot’s exit and a few cars.  Luckily, Binky, our brown 1984 Honda Accord was unscathed and the entrance  to the parking lot was still passable.  After getting dressed and leashing our first child, Joules, a black lab- dalmatian mix, the three of us climbed over the debris to our car and exited via the entrance on the way to a wedding.  Ours.

The majority of our guests were coming in from out of town, which meant they were not coming.  The interstates were closed.  That is the type of storm we are talking about here.

The ceremony was held at the camp where we met and was officiated by the camp director and the secretary.  It was an honor to have the camp director perform the ceremony because he inadvertently brought us together and a blessing to have the secretary because she was a Notary Public and a genuinely good human being.

As Shannon, Joules and I drove down the winding entrance road to the camp, we stopped to watch a power-line that had fallen across a bush.  The bush was on fire.  We drove on.

At the camp, with snow flakes beginning to fall- let me just refocus your attention on the fact that it was March and we were in Florida- so with the snow flakes beginning to fall along with the icy sleet, and with the wind kicking up waves big enough to crash over the docks, we opted to move our beautiful outdoor wedding into the rec hall.  This old building is probably even less glamorous than it sounds to you.  However, we’d slow danced during Stairway to Heaven in that building so it wasn’t too heartbreaking for us.

The wind was literally howling outside the rec hall, the lakes had ocean sized waves, and did I mention the burning bush?

These were not the ideal conditions we imagined when we planned our outdoor wedding. It was supposed to be in a wooded amphitheater overlooking two lakes that glitter like bowls full of diamonds in the sun.  There was a noticeable lack of flower petals and butterflies floating in the non-existent warm, gentle breezes and the crowds of people we expected were far less crowded than we envisioned.

In front of our collection of brave friends and family, locals mostly, we were married.

Thus began the nineteen years that brings us to today.  The years have been very much like the wedding we had on that weird, unexpected day.  We may have planned to hitchhike across Europe or nap away the summers in Barbados but the reality was usually quite different from the grandiose plans we made.

This is why we have had such a wonderful couple of decades together so far.  Both of us are dreamers who believe that things work out best for people that make the best out of the way things work out.

Life is a blissful miracle filled with wonder and bursting with joy.  It is also a messy affair with pain and suffering.  Life is both of these extremes and every gradient in between.  As mere humans, how are we supposed to be able to plan for a future that is everything we want it to be?  We can’t.  We don’t.

The trick is to find a spectacular human being that loves you more than you love yourself (no matter how MUCH you love yourself) that is willing to enjoy the ride with you.   The ideal candidate will laugh often and cry at the end of Disney movies and Christmas commercials.  This person should be willing let you be yourself, no matter how many times you change who you are, while also gently steering you away from the really stupid choices.  If you can find this magical unicorn of a spouse, you have hit the jackpot.

No mere Storm of the Century could dampen the spirit of someone that miraculous.


About jasongillett

I'm Jason Gillett, 2 year VEGAN, and a 41 year old family man. My wife & I teach in a FL school. I am using a blog to chronicle our family's new life. View all posts by jasongillett

21 responses to “Day 153: the Storm of the Century

  • Jenn

    I know I should let my sister-in-law be the first to respond to this post but since she is still crying about what a wonderful husband she has, I win and get to post first. Great post, to any non-believers I was there he is not exaggerating. It was really a day to remember!

    • jasongillett

      What a long time ago that was! I can even picture the car that you and the ‘rents drove up in. How could that much time of passed? I blame all this sleeping that my body requires. Love you Jenn- it feels like time travel thinking of you then but talking to you now.

      • Jenn

        My hair was longer and my world was smaller. I do love the people we are growing up to be! (and ha ha creeps is almost 40!)

  • The Savvy Sister

    I think I have one of those unicorns……his horn pokes me every morning.

    • jasongillett

      If this was Facebook, I’d click Like, if it was Twitter, I’d favorite this~ but since this is neither I am going to cash in my one ‘LMAO’ that I allow myself to use each year. I wouldn’t normally use it this early in the year, but I feel good about using it here:


      For real.

    • Sheree

      hahahaha! Me, too!! I feel so blessed~~(seriously, I do).

      What a beautiful post, Jason.

  • Karen Harmon

    I have never even met you, but know from your posts that you are a wonderful human being. Haven’t seen Shannon in years-we worked at Camp McConnell together-but her friendship is one I will always cherish. Great memories with her. You are very lucky to have her. But you already know that.

    • jasongillett

      Great to meet you Karen! Isn’t it an amazing time warp to fall into when you think back on camp days? My time at Crystal is a blur of 10,000 memories~ no particular order anymore, just a blur. But the connections I made with the 1,000s of people during that time are as real and current as ever. Camps make families out of strangers. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment here, I can’t wait to show Shannon your post. Happy March!

  • Annmarie

    I remember that day well……it flooded my parents house and it took months to “recover”…but on a happier note…..HAPPY ANNIVERSARY and many more!

    • jasongillett

      For about 15 years afterward, every anniversary of ours was Storm of the Century Day on the Weather Channel. We saw the recap footage and the scare shows so many times, we feel a real connection to the storm. It was devastating. There were some very sad stories from the Florida panhandle. It is probably what helped me learn “life is a blissful miracle filled with wonder and bursting with joy. It is also a messy affair with pain and suffering. ” All over Earth, all at the same time. It is hard to fathom sometimes- horrible war is being fought somewhere while love and peace are being enjoyed elsewhere. Thank you for the H.Anniv. wishes and for reading along over the last several months 🙂 !

  • kidsrvegan2

    Add after Blog posts to the Disney movie, Christmas commercials list.

  • Joshua E. Bigger

    I like very much the evolution of your writing. This really stood out, for me, when you mentioned the compassion you had for the sushi chef, smiling away, and the compassion for yourself.

    This post ups the ante and depth of your sharing. This is no mere matter of weight loss, nutrition, etc – which naturally have their place and make these bodies possible – but you’ve jumped deeply into the heart, and the power of your writing and communicating has blossomed accordingly.

    We must intelligently discipline the organism, but we also live in dimensions of mind, emotion, and imagination.

    It’s wonderful to watch intensity unfold into matter and circumstance. Thanks.

    • jasongillett

      Thanks Joshua- this was one of the hardest pieces I wrote so far, and frankly, I already want to tear it down and replace it with an updated version. I need to add a section that illustrates how much we loved our alternate wedding, connected to how much we love our unpredictable life. It might be somewhat implied, but when this is harvested, updated and used in another format it will be more to my liking. Thanks again my man~

  • Melody Pilgrim

    I’ve been enjoying your posts for a few months now and I’m a little surprised at how excited I get when I see you’ve added a new one. After all, I don’t know you, or your sister, although I am genuinely charmed by how sweet you are to each other.

    Maybe it’s because I “converted” to veganism at the same time and was relieved to see a blog dealing with the transition with a sunny pragmatic frame of mind and a notable lack of recipes for raw goop from the blender and deoderant alternatives.

    Regardless, this was a really sweet post. Thank you for sharing. And I love that you slow danced to Stairway to Heaven in a rec hall while your trusty brown 1984 Honda Accord waited outside.

    Happy anniversary from a stranger in New Zealand,


    • Jenn

      Melody I am glad I am not the only one exploding with excitement when a new post lights up my inbox! I am really glad to hear there are other folks who don’t want deodorant alternatives.

      • Melody Pilgrim

        I solemnly swear I will never post photos of my armpit on the internet before and after applying some strange baking soda concoction.

  • jasongillett

    New Zealand? Melody, please understand that anyone who gets at all excited when they see a new post is one of my BEST friends! We just haven’t met in person is all, and since Shannon and I daydream about NZ all the time, even that might be overcome in the future- however, I won’t plan on it- that seems to cause all kinds of unexpected results. It gives me a lot of strength to hear from vegans in my class (We are the Vegan Class of Oct. 2011) and I am glad to hear you are hanging in there too. This new life has become so standard it hardly seems odd anymore. Thanks for reading!!

    • Melody Pilgrim

      Aaaaaah October 2011 – those heady first days when I thought “I’ll just try it out for 30 days and be back to traditional fruit cake and pork belly in time for Christmas dinner”. Sure I suspected it would be good for my health (suspected? really?) but what I never expected was how happy it would make me feel.
      I loved it.
      I was not so thrilled about telling people I was vegan but *fortunately* I was doing it for health reasons so I wasn’t confronted with toooooo much judgment (although a close friend did say, quite magnanimously “I have no problem with people choosing to be vegan for health reasons, but I really have a problem with people doing it for ethical reasons”). But I was quite surprised that given enough time apart from meat – implying that it was a bad influence on me (I was a good kid who just fell in with the wrong crowd….), I realized that I genuinely was troubled by my part in the whole animals = food thing.
      Anyway, what I actually wanted to say before I started my self-absorbed rambling, was that being a vegan feels very easy. Very normal. And it’s precisely because I’m not alone – there’s your blog, facebook of course, those lovely ladies at Post Punk Kitchen and their fabulous cookbooks and more vegan-mom, vegan-dad, vegan-raw-goop-from-a-blender blogs than I could possibly read during my son’s naptime. So thank you, thank you, thank you.


      – oh and you should absolutely come visit, we’d love to see you. I’ll bake.

      • jasongillett

        Wasn’t that first month a riot! Every morning I’d wake myself and get ready to power through another day of veganism- I didn’t even notice the effort disappearing! I just stopped having to think about it after a certain point. The transition from fad diet to lifestyle was pretty easy.

        How funny that veganism for health reasons is OK, but if its for compassion- NO WAY! How dare we be compassionate as well as healthy?

  • The Ides of March | Jason and the Veganauts

    […] were not a lot of people that could travel the debris strewn roads and interstates to get to our atypical wedding. During the reception we received a pile of wedding gifts from the bravest guests.  I wish I could […]

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